Property rights and contract enforcement

Security for investors and boundary disputes

Registered land improves security for investors and helps prevent boundary disputes. It also increases access to credit, particularly for SMEs, as well as increases investment in the property sector.

A healthy business environment is as much about investor confidence as it is about opportunities and resources so a weak or ineffective judicial system can have a severe and direct impact on a country’s investment climate. A modern, efficienct commercial judicial system improves the legal and regulatory environment that encourages trade.

Establishment of Commercial Courts

ICF worked with the Government of Burkina Faso and the Chamber of Commerce of Burkina Faso to increase the quality and speed of commercial dispute resolution. This included establishing commercial courts in the two large cities of Ouagadougou and Bobo-Dioulasso, specialization of judges and magistrates on commercial issues, and introducing a legal framework for transparent, streamlined and modernized judicial procedures.

As a result of the project, two commercial courts were established, one in Ouagadougou and one in Bobo Dioulasso, making commercial justice more accessible. The Business and Movable Collateral Registry has been digitised and made available at the Commercial Courts, which increases the speed at which contracts can be enforced. A total of 11 Judges and 20 consultant judges have received specialisation in commercial matters. Commercial dispute resolution time has gone down, from 446 days in 2009 to 174 days in 2012.

Interconnection Business, Lands and Construction Services

This project aims to reduce waiting times, procedures and costs while increasing efficiency and the number of transactions in the business, land and construction sectors. This will be done by creating separate databases for land registration, business registration and construction licensing. All three databases will be connected through a joint interactive database. Registration procedures for all three will also be interconnected to allow for enhanced eRegistry. 

Land Registration System

ICF has completed a project that has supported the Government of Burkina Faso's efforts to improve land registration, and simplify the application process for construction permits. Effective land registration provides land owners with property rights, security and access to credit, and is particularly important for SMEs. Due to red tape, high costs and long delays, only 5,100 land titles had been registered in Burkina Faso in the last 74 years.

To improve the situation, the Government adopted an action plan that aims to simplify procedures for registering a land title and reduce associated delays and costs. The establishment of a one stop shop for land registration is believed to be the first of its kind in the sub-region. Since its introduction, the process of transferring property has also speeded up by 88%, taking 21 days in 2010 instead of 182 days in 2008, using five procedures instead of eight and costing 50% less for residential land at US$3,677 instead of US$7,354 and 64% less for industrial land at US$8,812 instead of US$24,477.

Anti-Counterfeiting and Piracy Policy and Legislation

ICF worked with the East African Community Secretariat to develop an EAC-wide policy to combat piracy and counterfeit practices in the region as they have an adverse effect on the investment climate. The project quantified the magnitude of the challenge that member states face in combating pirated and counterfeit goods. It formulated a regional policy and recommended harmonization of the current anti-counterfeit and piracy laws in the region as a means to combat the problem.

Harmonization of Commercial Laws

ICF’s partnership with the East African Community Secretariat sought to bring the EAC closer to total economic integration by harmonizing commercial laws within the EAC. Establishing a synchronised legal framework for partner states will reduce the private sector’s burden of having to deal with different laws when doing cross-border transactions. The project has outlined the current EAC partner state laws governing commercial transactions and recommended harmonization of commercial laws in the region. The project also developed a commercial code (set of laws) for the region, which is pending adoption.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

ICF is working with the Chamber of Commerce of Ivory Coast to promote arbitration and mediation. The project will improve contract enforcement in Ivory Coast by promoting an alternative avenue for SMEs to resolve their commercial disputes. This includes promoting the Court of Arbitration of Cote d’Ivoire (CACI), reinforcing the internal capacity of the CACI and its stakeholders, and promoting alternative dispute resolution as a swift and transparent way for settling commercial disputes in Ivory Coast. The project is expected to reduce the time from filing a case to judgement from 180 days to 100 days.

Mali »

Alternative Dispute Resolution Phase I

ICF supported the government of Mali to modernize and strengthen Mali’s Centre of Conciliation and Arbitration in an effort to reduce time and costs and eliminate uncertainties about commercial litigation in Mali.

The project reduced the time from trial to judgement of a commercial dispute from 860 days to 180 days; the number of arbitration cases has increased significantly, from only two cases within three years (2005 - 2008) to 19 cases within three months (March - May 2014).

The number of sectors seeking arbitration has increased from two (Energy and Mining) to eight (Energy, Mining, Trade, Consultancy, Telecommunications, Construction, Services and Agriculture).

Alternative Dispute Resolution Phase II

ICF is working with the Mali Chamber of Commerce and Industry to promote the use of arbitration and mediation in resolving commercial disputes. The aim is to reduce the time, costs and uncertainties related to commercial litigation by providing alternative mechanisms for businesses to resolve their disputes. The project will promote Mali’s Centre of Arbitration and Conciliation (CECAM), reinforce CECAM’s internal capacity, introduce mediation and increase the acceptance of arbitration within the judicial community.

Tax Dispute Resolution

ICF worked with the Government of Mali on a project that aimed to reduce the time, costs and uncertainties related to fiscal dispute resolution. The project modernised and strengthened the tax administration system with the long-term aim of reducing the number, time and costs of fiscal conflicts.

As a result of the project, a tax dispute archive is now available at the headquarters of the Tax Authority of the Government of Mali (GoM) also known as Direction Générale des Impôts (DGI). Further, a law has been passed on streamlined procedures for DGI.

Modernisation of the Judiciary

ICF is working with the Government of Mauritius to modernise its Judiciary by simplifying and automating the settlement process and reducing the turnaround time for lodging commercial cases in the Supreme Court. A Mediation Division has been established in the Supreme Court to deal with all commercial cases first before going to full trial. A Fast Track will also be set up in the Commercial Division of the Supreme Court to hear and judge cases within 36 days. With ICF support, the duration of full trials for commercial cases is expected to reduce from 180 days to 100 days.

Nigeria »

Alternative Dispute Resolution

ICF is working with the Government of Nigeria to fully operationalize the Lagos Court of Arbitration. The aim is to reduce time, cost and the number of procedures taken to resolve commercial disputes and enforce commercial contracts. The project intends to reduce the number of procedures needed to enforce a commercial contract. There are 40 procedures in the traditional commercial justice system, but the Lagos Court of Arbitration will have only 6. This is expected to reduce the number of days spent on enforcing commercial contracts from 457 to 180.

OHADA »

Organization of Harmonization of Business Laws in Africa (OHADA) Phase I & II

ICF has been working with OHADA to harmonize business laws across 17 countries in West and Central Africa by reviewing and reinforcing some of OHADA’s eight Uniform Acts. The second phase of this project is working on the reform and adoption of the Companies Act and Bankruptcy Act. Adoption of the reformed Companies Act will lead to a reduction in the minimum capital required to start a business from an average of US$ 2,000 to US$ 100.

Uniform Acts Reform: Phase I and II

ICF is supporting reform of eight OHADA Uniform Acts through external expertise, consultations with the region's lawyers, business judges and other stakeholders, and through the adoption of the reformed Uniform Acts by OHADA's National Commissions and OHADA's Council of Ministers.

Two Acts, Commercial Law and Security Interest and Mortgages have been drafted. A strategy for the modernisation of companies' registry systems in OHADA member countries has also been approved.

Rwanda »

Alternative Dispute Resolution

ICF is working with the Government of Rwanda in a project that will streamline the procedures, time and cost of enforcing commercial contracts by operationalizing the Kigali International Arbitration Centre (KIAC) and establishing a pool of professionals in mediation and arbitration. The project will also promote alternative dispute resolution in Rwanda and KIAC as a seat of arbitration and mediation in Rwanda and Africa. The project is expected to reduce the time from filing to judgement of a case at KIAC from 140 days to 90 days.

Commercial Justice

ICF is working with the Government of Rwanda to implement the second generation of commercial contract enforcement reforms in the country. The project will help the Judiciary to upgrade an electronic case and records management system, streamline business processes, develop a pool of real time court reporters, develop Law Reports, and build synergies between the Judiciary and the newly established Kigali International Arbitration Centre. 

The project will reduce the time from filing to judgement of a case in the Judiciary from 140 days to 65 days and reduce the number of appeals from 20% to 10%. 

Kigali Construction Permit

ICF worked with the Government of Rwanda to enable the City of Kigali to provide better services to the private sector and members of the public. It has implemented a web-based construction permit management information system for the full construction permit process cycle, from submission to delivery. The system supports client relations as well as the administration of construction and other related permits (e.g. occupation, renovation, change of use, transformation and permit to construct a fence) issued by the City of Kigali district offices.

As a result, the number of visits needed to the authorities to process a construction permit for both residential and commercial buildings has been reduced from 7-10 days to a maximum of three days.

Land Administration Enhancement

ICF is working with the Government of Rwanda to further reduce the procedures, time and cost of land transfers in Rwanda. The project will integrate legal and spatial land information into one database, and operationalise the Rwanda Natural Resources Authority’s Land Administration Information System in all districts in Rwanda. Links will also be created with the City of Kigali for construction permits and the Office of the Registrar General for mortgage registration.

The project is expected to reduce the number of procedures required to transfer land from 7 procedures to 3, and the number of days needed to transfer land from 7 days to 2.

Rwanda Investment Climate Project

ICF worked with the Government of Rwanda to strengthen and speed up the pace of investment climate reforms in Rwanda and reduce the cost and risk of doing business in country. This was done by addressing constraints in the areas of commercial disputes resolution, business registration and land registration.

Commercial dispute resolution: the project established four commercial courts and as a result, the time it took to resolve a commercial dispute went down from 5 years to 120 days; the pre-2007 backlog of over 3,333 commercial cases was cleared; and over US$ 20m has been freed up due to the quick resolution of commercial disputes.

Business Registration: the project established the Office of the Registrar General as well as an online business registration system. As a result, the time it took to register a business went down from 16 days to 2 days, there were only 2 procedures for registration, and the fee reduced from $433 to $25 (free online). Over 10,000 businesses were registered between June 2010 and September 2012.

Land registration: Computerisation of the land registry through the newly established Land Information Administration System has improved titling and boosted mortgage registration.

Senegal »

Construction Permit

ICF is supporting a project to improve the process of issuing construction permits in the region of Dakar. The project will introduce an electronic system for individuals and companies to apply, pay and receive their construction permits online. The system includes SMS notification to alert applicants about the status of their application.

The project is expected to reduce the permit processing time from 90 days to 28 days for simple construction projects and 40 days for complex construction projects. The processing fee is expected to reduce by 93% from US$28 to US$2 (excluding tax).

Fast Track Commercial Court in Freetown

The objectives of this project were to establish a Fast Track Commercial Court in Freetown to reduce time and costs of commercial disputes; to introduce transparent, streamlined and modernised regulatory and administrative procedures as well as an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanism, to reduce time and cost for commercial litigation.

The project successfully addressed the need of the Judiciary of Sierra Leone to improve the commercial landscape by establishing a fully digitalised and automated Fast Track Commercial Court which is fully operational in Freetown. The ADR mechanism has been introduced to the judicial system of Sierra Leone and new commercial court rules were drafted and adopted by Parliament. The backlog of commercial cases has been halved and there has been a reduction in time lag in commercial litigation (filing to judgment takes a maximum of two months from a previous average of two–six years). This has been achieved through usage of state of the art technology, new rules and ADR.

Land Registration System

ICF worked with the Government of Sierra Leone on a project that aimed to reduce the time and cost of land registration by refining and streamlining procedures, create an electronic database for faster and cheaper verification of land titles, stimulate the land market and facilitate access to credit.

 As a result of the project, the number of days to register a land property in Sierra Leone shall be as follows: 16 days for registration of private survey plans, 19 days for residential leases and 16 days for commercial leases (as opposed to 235 days in 2008).  The amount of procedures has been trimmed by 25%, from 8 to 6, whilst the percentage levied off the property value decreases from 15 to 10 percent.

Modernization of the Judiciary

ICF worked with the Government of Tanzania to modernise and strengthen the Judiciary’s capacity to deliver commercial justice promptly, efficiently and transparently through training and the use of modern technology in courtrooms. The project provided information and communication technology equipment and related software to the Court of Appeal, the High Court, and the three subdivisions of the High Court – the Commercial Division, the Land Division and the Labour Division.

As a result of the project, four courts in Dar es Salaam were computerised and audio recording systems were introduced. A total of 40 Judges, 35 registrars and 35 clerks received computer training and 12 IT personnel were recruited and trained.

Nation Land Bank

ICF worked with the Government of Tanzania on to commission a study that aimed to determine stakeholder demand and a possible structure for a new Land Bank. As a result of the project, various sites were identified as potential land parcels for investment and a preliminary Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was made for each land parcel.

Togo »

Alternative Dispute Resolution

ICF worked with the Government of Togo to improve commercial justice through the strengthening of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms. The aim of the project was to increase the speed and efficiency of settlement of commercial disputes through the procedures used by the Court of Arbitration and Conciliation of Togo (CATO).

As a result of the project, 30 new arbitrator and 100 magistrates and professionals received training in mediation/arbitration techniques. Further, the new CATO procedure manual is explicit that the time between filing and judgement shall be a maximum of 6 months as per article 36 of the ruling procedures.

Commercial Justice

ICF is working with the Government of Togo to reduce the procedures, time and costs of enforcing contracts in Togo. The project will create dedicated commercial chambers at the Appeals Court in Lome, introduce an integrated commercial justice case management system, and introduce real time court reporting. The project is expected to reduce the time for trial and judgement in the Court of Appeal from 346 days to 100 days.

Zambia »

Modernization of the Judiciary: Phase I and II

ICF worked with the Government of Zambia to modernise its Judiciary. The project aimed to introduce a modern information management system in order to reduce the time it takes to resolve a case, improve security and access to case files, increase transparency, and reduce the backlog of pending cases.

As a result of the project, 13 Registries (5 in Lusaka, 4 each in Kitwe and Ndola) were modernized with electronic case and record management systems that have enabled the digitisation of over 10,000 court records, eliminating instances of record misplacements. Additionally, 10 courtrooms (6 in Lusaka, 2 each in Kitwe and Ndola) were computerised with real time digital transcription and audio backup. This enables court reporters to capture court proceedings and transmit them on screens in the courtroom so that everyone in the courtroom can see what is written. Transcripts of proceedings can then be made available soon after the court session.

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